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Breast feeding: bonding BREAST FEEDING: BONDING
'There is no doubt that the psychological value is enormous,' I agreed. 'Doctors refer to it as bonding—a link or interaction between mother and baby, which is important. The earlier breast feeding begins, the more intense and successful bonding will be.'
'Then why is it some mothers have difficulty?' Karen asked.
'Some are simply not interested or may have a mental block. The more you talk in positive terms before the baby is born, the more successful you will be. Mental preparation is an excellent idea, and these mothers seem to be the ones chalking up the best success records.
'A peaceful atmosphere is important. Peace and calm, and freedom from tensions and anxieties, will let the milk flow be even, regular and plentiful in most cases. Ideally, the baby should go to the breast soon after birth, and thereafter "on demand", as they say.
This will in most instances soon establish a plentiful milk supply. If there are early difficulties (and this is not uncommon), the aid of a sympathetic person experienced in baby care will often help considerably.'
'Is it best to feed the baby while lying down or while sitting up,' Karen asked. 'I've tried both. Which is the ideal?'
'The ideal is what suits you both best. Sometimes, with the milk running downhill, baby receives too much too quickly; so she coughs and splutters and has difficulty, and this may frighten her in the early stages. Try lying down, with baby on top, so she has to suck "uphill". This makes it a bit more difficult and reduces the rate of flow, but makes the experience more satisfactory for both.
'Some babies are vigorous suckers; others are slower, take their time and may even go to sleep. Don't forget that the baby is a personality in her own right and will tend to do things the way she likes it best.'
'It's interesting to see that she certainly knows where the food supply is,' Karen said.
'They have an inbuilt intuition,' I commented. 'All babies can sense food, and when anywhere near it will automatically seek the correct connection. Another automatic reflex starts as soon as she gets the nipple in her mouth. She commences sucking. It is an inbuilt and automatic reflex.'
'It seems to me that some mothers simply give up the idea of breast feeding after a week or two, claiming it is impossible. Is this really true?' Karen asked.
'Sometimes it takes time for the milk pattern to become established. Also, in the days following birth, some women become morose and depressed and wonder what everything is all about. They tend to give up in despair and become discouraged easily. Some suffer from cracked nipples, which may be very painful, so do not persist. After a few weeks of feeding, most mothers sense a feeling of the milk coming into the breasts at feeding time. Even thinking about feeding their babies or hearing them cry can initiate this interesting automatic reflex.'
'When I go home, how often do I feed Joanna?' was Karen's next query.
'Most doctors today suggest that you feed "on demand". It doesn't take the baby long to fall into a regular feeding pattern. At first she may want ten or twelve feeds a day, but this quickly reduces until most babies are content with four or five a day in each 24 hours.
'In the first few days, a very rich, creamy kind of milk called colostrum is produced. This is believed to contain special antibodies aimed at giving the baby protection during the first few days of life. This persists for several days after birth, and then normal lactation takes place.
'The baby is often hungry at each feed. Commence with one side for five to ten minutes, then switch to the opposite side. Let her suckle for as long as she desires, possibly up to 20 minutes. Next feed, commence with the opposite breast.'
'One of my girl friends said that her milk supply seemed to diminish quickly after she left hospital and returned home,' Karen said. 'Is this common?'
'It is not uncommon, for the new mother is back in the world of normal activity, with its inherent stresses and strains, and these may play a part in the milk supply,' I answered. 'But if she persists with breast feeding, the milk supply will soon return to normal. Ideally, she will benefit if she can gain some rest during the early days.
'More fluids are essential for her also. Usually she should be able to supply all of the baby's needs, although many mothers like to give their babies extra fluids, especially if the weather is hot. Boiled water or diluted fruit juice (orange) with vitamin C are suitable. Fluoride, should be given in the appropriate doses to babies fed entirely on breast milk, before they are drinking water. This assists in preventing later dental caries, tooth decay; for both breast milk and cow's milk, the dentists say, have insufficient amounts of this.'
'But why do some women refuse to breast feed if the advantages are so obvious?' Karen asked.
'Sometimes it is impossible,' I answered. 'If the baby is weak, ill or premature, or if there is some structural deformity such as a cleft palate or lip, it may be difficult to breast feed. Then ideally breast milk is used but given via a bottle. On the other hand, some mothers are simply unable to produce adequate amounts of milk, so formula or artificial feeding may be recommended. In today's affluent society, many women simply opt for bottle feeding, although in recent times, wherever possible, more and more are happily returning to nature's way.'
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